July 15, 2024

The cost of Caleb Love’s return for Arizona? Four-star guards Joson Sanon, Jamari Phillips part with Wildcats

Four-star Class of 2024 guards Joson Sanon and Jamari Phillips backed off their respective pledges to Arizona just hours after Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love announced he would be returning for his final season in Tucson on Wednesday. 

Sanon, who ranked as the No. 22 player in the 2024 recruiting cycle by 247Sports, had committed to Arizona in March. Phillips, the No. 52 player in 2024, had signed with Arizona during the November signing period. 

Love’s decision to return and the crunch it put on backcourt minutes and perhaps NIL dollars undoubtedly played a role in the two decommitments, especially Sanon’s (in a devilish twist, Sanon imminently flipped to Arizona State). 

“Even before Sanon committed to Arizona, his recruitment had been a bit of a rollercoaster,” 247Sports National Basketball Director Eric Boosi said. “Despite Sanon and those around him assuring Tommy Lloyd that his commitment was secure, there had been a growing feeling that Sanon would never make it to Tucson if Love returned. That he backed out almost immediately is no surprise though his pledge to Arizona State came quicker than anticipated.”

Sanon’s commitment to Arizona State gives the program the No. 5 overall recruiting class in the 2024 cycle. Earlier this offseason, ASU landed a commitment from five-star center Jayden Quaintance, who previously signed with Kentucky before John Calipari departed his post to take the vacant job at Arkansas. Quaintance marked Arizona State’s highest-rated recruit since 247Sports began its rankings in 2000 and is just the second five-star recruit Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley has landed, joining Josh Christopher, who committed to ASU in the 2020 recruiting cycle.

In the case of Phillips, it’s more likely that Arizona was the initiator of the breakup. Jason Scheer of 247Sports’ Wildcat Authority termed the situation as “Arizona parting ways” with Phillips, who ranked No. 30 nationally when he committed to Arizona but has seen his stock drop some into the 50s. 

“The bigger issue for Phillips and the Wildcats is what the roster will look like next season and how the potential playing time has changed as well,” Scheer wrote. 

With Love announcing his return to Arizona, the Wildcats are expected to be one of the top contenders in the new-look Big 12 ahead of the 2024-25 season. Despite losing Kylan Boswell, Pelle Larsson, Oumar Ballo and Keshad Johnson to either the NBA or the transfer portal, the Wildcats are bringing in four-star forward Carter Bryant and four-star center Emmanuel Stephen to pair with transfers Anthony Dell’Orso (Campbell), Tobe Awaka (Tennessee) and Trey Townsend (Oakland).